It is so easy for a healthy culture to gradually erode, one non appreciation at a time.
Recently I ran a We-Q team diagnostic session for the digital leadership team of a large media group. They were surprised to discover that one of their lowest scores was for
‘I feel valued and recognised’
This realisation generated a lot of energy to dig deeper. Everyone had a strong view and expressed their dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs.
“We end up moving from one thing to another without a pause for reflection, self appreciation, or god forbid, the appreciation of our colleagues.”
“I’m new in the team, and I don’t think people really know what I bring or can do for them. I’d appreciate the time and space to tell them.”
“I’d love to be able to talk about the cool things I’m working on and achieving”
“It would be great to be recognised with a healthy pay increase.”
Feeling recognised and valued is a fundamental and healthy part of being human.
Since we were tiny, the reflections that came back to us from others was vital for the building of our self esteem. A smile, a few words of appreciation, the recognition of our creativity and inspiration can mean so much. Without it, life can feel drab. Over time lack of recognition and appreciation can lead to feeling dispirited. We give less, or worse, give up. It is that vital.
We humans are social beings deeply influenced by the quality of the important relationships in our lives.
We flourish in the right conditions, and shrink in the wrong ones.
Our need for appreciation and recognition doesn’t stop in childhood, but continues throughout our lives. It even encompasses death. My guess is that most people (no stats) would love to be remembered well after their death. They hope that the speeches made at their memorial will accurately reflect the contribution they made to the world and to the enrichment of others.
In the world of work, the need to feel valued, visible and appreciated is being trampled underfoot by the relentless rise in work load, and crazy expectations on speeds of delivery. In a fast moving world, these pressures just continue to rise, occupying more and more precious personal and mental space.
The good news is that we all want appreciation, it is a universal need and one to be taken seriously. Demonstrating appreciation is also a surprisingly easy gift to give and receive.
The first step is realising there is a shared problem.
This is best achieved in a team meeting devoted to team culture, ie the Me and We rather than just the IT!
Once awareness of the problem has been identified, a quick diagnosis reveals the underlying dynamic. It helps the team develop a shared understanding. Analysis is not enough. Action is required to change culture.
In the case of the this particular group, the team quickly identified actions they could immediately take:
Encouraging one another to take personal responsibility for turning the tide. Act on what you appreciate in others in the flow of things, informally. ie a spoken word, an email, lunch! etc
Reserve time in team meetings for appreciations to be given and received, in a natural way. This can include self appreciation. ‘Awesome things I have done’.
Take time in team meetings for people to be seen, to talk about what they do and how they can add value to others.
Negotiate together for a collective pay rise and discuss together how to influence the decision makers.
The appreciations started quite spontaneously in the meeting itself. By all accounts they have continued. The team have started to feel better connected and happier. How hard was that?
Are you tempted to improve your team culture? Who knows, you might find yourself glowing in the warmth of the appreciation of your team for doing so! ;-)